Brian Vickers is set to return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition with Michael Waltrip Racing next week at Bristol. The former Red Bull Racing Team driver will share driving duties of the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota, currently driven by Mark Martin. The veteran has committed to a limited schedule, consisting of 24 points races, and will first step aside next week. Vickers will drive in six short-track events, including the two Bristol races, plus those at Martinsville and New Hampshire.
Elliott Sadler was initially set to take on the schedule Vickers will now run, but he later decided not to do so, partly in order to keep his focus on the Nationwide Series title, having won last week's event at Phoenix while driving for Richard Childress Racing.
"I am thrilled to get back behind the wheel of not just a racecar, but a very fast racecar," said Vickers, who made the Chase for the Sprint Cup back in 2009 with Red Bull, winning the team's first race that same year at Michigan.
"I'm lucky to find a ride of this quality so early in the season. That Toyota won the pole last weekend in Phoenix and you saw it up front throughout the race. I know how good [crew chief] Rodney Childers and team are. I've known Rodney since I was 8 years old.
"This car is tied for sixth in points right now. This is going to be fun. I appreciate the opportunity Michael and the entire MWR organization are giving me."
Although neither Vickers, nor Martin, will be able to compete for the Cup title, the 55 car will count the points both score for the owners' standings. Team owner Michael Waltrip will also add to the tally, driving the car later this year at restrictor plate events.
"Brian Vickers is a veteran driver with almost 10 years experience, but he hasn't even turned 30 yet," said Waltrip. "He's shown he can win at this level and we have every confidence he'll run well with us. I believe in second chances and this is a great opportunity for us and Brian. He wants to show the world how good he really is and we believe in the equipment and people we're putting him with in 2012."
The team has yet to name a driver for the 55 for the two road course events.